The history of psychology as a study of the mind and behaviour dates back to the Ancient Greeks. There is also evidence of psychological thought in ancient Egypt. Psychology was a branch of philosophy until the 1870s when it developed as an independent scientific discipline in Germany and the United States.

Many cultures throughout history have speculated on the nature of the mind, heart, soul, spirit, brain, etc. Though theories of ancient thinkers did not include a theory of psychology per se*, they provided modern scientists with a number of different ways to view human nature and to approach the problems of psychology.

The three major philosophers of the 5th century B.C. — Socrates, his pupil Plato, and Aristotle — investigated the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge. They were also interested in psychological issues, including learning, memory, and conscious awareness.

In Asia, China had a long history of administering tests of ability as part of its education system. In the 6th century AD, Lin Xie carried out an early experiment, in which he asked people to draw a square with one hand and at the same time draw a circle with the other. Some have claimed that this is the first psychology experiment, and, therefore, the beginnings of psychology as an experimental science.

Medieval Muslim physicians also developed practices to treat patients suffering from a variety of “diseases of the mind.”

Avicenna developed a system for associating changes in the pulse rate with inner feelings. Avicenna also described hallucinations, insomnia, mania, nightmare, melancholia, etc.**

The first use of the term "psychology" is attributed to the Croatian humanist Marco Marulić (1450–1524).

During the Renaissance, the French philosopher René Descartes (17th century) stated that the mind was separate from the body and subject to its own rules and principles. The modern philosophical form of psychology was heavily influenced by the works of Descartes.

In the 17th—18th centuries psychology was given two major philosophical orientations: empiricism and nativism. Empiricism is a theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience. Nativism is the view that certain skills or abilities are innate.

Psychology as the independent science was first established by Wilhelm Wundt late in the 19th century. Wundt, who noted psychology as a science apart from biology and philosophy, was the first person to refer to himself as a psychologist. He is widely regarded as the "father of experimental psychology”. In 1879, Wundt founded the first formal laboratory for psychological research at the University of Leipzig. This marked psychology as an independent field of study.

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